July 31, 2016

Mountain Men

Cameron Labine, 2016
The relationship between siblings can be complicated and volatile over the course of a lifetime. When we are children, we spend so much time together because we all live under the same roof and will take what we can get in terms of company. Whether we are sharing a bunk-bed with that particular sibling or they live across the hall, we have a live-in playmate that may have different interests but for the most part we overlook the difference at that age and will be flexible for the other person. Then we get older, we grow apart. Sometimes years go by before we see each other. Sometimes it takes more than the holidays to bring everyone together. Sometimes its a wedding or, in this particular story, a death in the family.

Toph (Tyler Labine) and Cooper (Chace Crawford) have lost touch over the years. Coop has built some success on his own, living in New York disconnected from the family. Toph is more of a burn-out, living in his hometown. He is quick to say he's a professional DJ but the only actual income he has is from selling weed to the local pot-heads. Their mother gets remarried shortly after their father's death. While at the wedding Toph manages to convince Coop to venture to the family cabin to evict a squatter rumored to be residing there.

The get stranded in the snow-covered mountains and have to rely on each other (and their fathers wisdom) to return to safety. Mountain Men manages to capture some of the nuances of brothers. Abrupt fighting. Preying on weakness. Bringing up embarrassing memories of childhood. Part of the built-in authenticity of the film is probably due to the fact that director Cameron Labine is real-life brother of star Tyler Labine (also the stand-out role in the film). Mountain Men succeeds because it focuses more on the brother dynamic and less on trying to be a purely unique film. It's a predictable movie, and that's okay. The chemistry between Labine and Crawford feels real and that's enough to make it an entertaining watch. Crawford's Coop character is clearly the more introverted type and it contrasts well with Toph's goofy but likeable personality. The funniest most memorable shot of the entire film is the sudden jump to the cabin burning down. That's something that I will be laughing about inside for some time. Mountain Men is a nice little film, a fun watch.

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